6. Welsh Conservatives Debate: Ukraine

– in the Senedd at on 9 March 2022.

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(Translated)

The following amendments have been selected: amendment 1 in the names of Lesley Griffiths and Siân Gwenllian, and amendment 2 in the name of Siân Gwenllian.

Photo of David Rees David Rees Labour 4:09, 9 March 2022

(Translated)

The next item is the Welsh Conservatives debate on Ukraine. I call on Samuel Kurtz to move the motion.

(Translated)

Motion NDM7945 Darren Millar

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Deplores the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation.

2. Expresses solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

3. Recognises the suffering of the Ukrainian people through loss of life and injury, paying the price for this horrific war.

4. Acknowledges the rights of NATO to defend its members and supports the Ukrainian Government in the defence of their country.

5. Welcomes the action by the Welsh Government to provide humanitarian aid to those in need and safe refuge for those fleeing the conflict.

(Translated)

Motion moved.

Photo of Samuel Kurtz Samuel Kurtz Conservative 4:09, 9 March 2022

Diolch, Ddirprwy Lywydd. I'm pleased to open this afternoon's Welsh Conservative debate on Ukraine. Tomorrow will mark two weeks since Russia invaded the sovereign independent state of Ukraine—an invasion that has appalled the world and has united democratic nations in their condemnation of the brutal actions of President Vladimir Putin against our European ally. It is right and important that we in this Senedd offer our support and friendship to the people of Ukraine and stand united against the actions of President Putin and his Russian war machine, a united front which recognises the positive actions of the UK Government and their international allies in standing up to the tyranny, terror and evil that is being perpetrated by President Putin's illegal actions of war.

Photo of Samuel Kurtz Samuel Kurtz Conservative 4:10, 9 March 2022

Point 1 of this motion uses perhaps some of the strongest language that we as Members of this Siambr can use without being reprimanded by you, Dirprwy Lywydd—that this Senedd deplores the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. But it is a point, I'm sure, no-one in this Chamber will disagree with. Without question, war crimes have been committed in Ukraine. These deplorable actions by Russia have been referred to the International Criminal Court, and I echo former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in saying that no stone must be left unturned in seeking justice for these crimes. Putin and his allies must be held responsible for the barbaric and indiscriminate attacks on innocent Ukrainian civilians. Indeed, my colleague, Andrew R.T. Davies, was quite right when he stated that Putin must be left in no doubt—in no doubt—that all democracies will not stand by and let his aggressive actions go unchecked. While we may be small, together we are mighty in sending a message, clearly, and without falter, that Wales is a country that stands with Ukraine.

Dirprwy Lywydd, may I confirm for the record our admiration for the actions of the Ukrainian people in defending their land, their nation, their identity? Bakers, teachers and politicians have become soldiers, united in their goal of freedom. To see Ukrainian colleagues from the Verkhovna Rada take up arms to defend their people and county—as a parliamentarian here it is entirely unimaginable that we would have to take up arms to defend our constituents from invasion. When I looked in the mirror this morning and asked myself if I could ever be as brave as those Ukrainians, I was left searching for an answer.

Let us be under no illusion, the pictures of tanks crossing the Ukrainian border two weeks ago did not mark the start of this war—they were merely another act in the conflict that began eight years ago when the Crimean peninsular was annexed by Russia. The lack of any suitable response by western Governments empowered Putin and his regime. From that point, the likelihood of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine has increased day on day.

While we cannot turn back the clock and correct past failures, we can ensure today, and into the future, that our Ukrainian partners have the support and resources they need to expel these foreign forces from their land. Since 2015 UK Government have provided non-lethal military equipment totalling a value of more than £2.2 million, a contribution that is further being built upon as we speak. The UK Government has also trained over 22,000 Ukrainian troops through Operation Orbital over the same period.

The London stock exchange has suspended trading in around 30 Russian companies, £258 billion-worth of bank assets have been sanctioned by the UK Government, and many of those closest to Putin's circle of power are having their assets frozen. In modern conflicts, war is not won solely on the battlefield, but in the global marketplace and stock exchanges of the world. The fall of the Soviet Union was marked by the raising of the golden arches of McDonald's in Pushkin Square in 1990. The symbolism of their current boycott in Russia is of great significance. Sanctions from the UK Government, her allies, and from businesses such as McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Apple will damage the Russian economy, cripple the funding of their war machine, and prevent key goods and technologies from being imported into Russia. We have struck them where it hurts, and we will make it sting.

Yesterday's announcement that the UK will phase out all imports of Russian oil and oil products by the end of this year shows again we are turning our back on this pariah state hellbent on destruction in Ukraine.

The final point of this motion highlights the extraordinary efforts that are being made to provide humanitarian aid to those that are fleeing conflict. The UK Government has pledged almost £400 million in financial support, and the Welsh Government announced a welcome £4 million contribution last Thursday. While the UK Government has taken steps to intensify the authorisation of visa applications, there is a long way to go. It is my minimum expectation that the UK Government should work tirelessly to process the many thousands of visas of Ukrainians seeking refuge here in the United Kingdom. In going further and faster, we can match the military and economic support that our country has led on. That is why we will be supporting the amendment in the name of Lesley Griffiths.

I welcome the UK Government's announcement yesterday of Lord Richard Harrington's appointment as Minister of State for Refugees, and feel that a dedicated Minister who has experience of Government can only be a positive move forward. However, we cannot support the Plaid amendment. At this moment, with Russia sabre-rattling like never before, we believe it would be irresponsible to take any of our deterrents off the table and remove our second-strike capabilities.

History was made yesterday as President Zelenskyy became the first leader of a foreign nation to address the House of Commons. His passion and love for his country, and fierce desire to drive back those illegal invasion forces, was unshakable. To be or not to be: that was the question asked by President Zelenskyy about Ukraine's future. He answered unequivocally: to be. And we here in Wales, the United Kingdom and the free world also answer 'to be' to Ukraine's right to exist.

I look forward to hearing contributions of fellow Members today and close by only saying, Slava Ukraini. Diolch.

(Translated)

The Llywydd took the Chair.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 4:16, 9 March 2022

(Translated)

I have selected the two amendments to the motion. I call on the Minister for Social Justice to formally move amendment 1. 

(Translated)

Amendment 1—Lesley Griffiths, Siân Gwenllian

Add as new point at end of motion:

Calls on the UK Government to urgently:

a) introduce an expedited visa process to ensure simple, fast, safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK;

b) remove the requirement for Ukrainians to provide biometric evidence prior to leaving Ukraine;

c) provide further detail about the resettlement schemes and consequent funding that will be needed to support resettlement efforts.

(Translated)

Amendment 1 moved.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

Thank you very much. I call now on Adam Price to move amendment 2, tabled in the name of Siân Gwenllian. Adam Price.

(Translated)

Amendment 2—Siân Gwenllian

Add as new point at end of motion:

Acknowledges that this conflict increases the risk of a nuclear war and the fear of nuclear war amongst people in Wales and beyond, and therefore calls on all states, including the nuclear states to sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which came into force in January 2021, and which would prevent such a threat in future.

(Translated)

Amendment 2 moved.

Photo of Adam Price Adam Price Plaid Cymru 4:16, 9 March 2022

Diolch, Llywydd. All wars everywhere are equally awful for the people caught up in them, but there are certain wars that carry within them seeds of destruction so universal it has the potential to consume us all. I think it's increasingly evident that the war in Ukraine is such a war, a moment in history the likes of which we have not seen for 80 years.

'Waves of anger and fear / Circulate over the bright / And darkened lands of the earth'.

Those words of W.H. Auden, written as Nazi tanks invaded Poland, could have been written yesterday, not on 1 September 1939. Like his generation, we desperately want, in the midst of this darkness, the light and affirming flame, but it's not enough just to declare our solidarity. We must act.

So, what must be done? We have to impose nothing less than a total economic embargo on Russia. It's morally indefensible to fund Putin's war machine with the purchase of oil, gas and coal or indeed wheat or chromium. The UK is offering only to end the imports of oil by the end of the year. That's a position, quite frankly, that is politically and morally untenable when children are being killed as we speak in Ukraine. We need nothing less than a full energy embargo immediately. Now, it'll be painful. We understand that. But it's technically and economically possible. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries have a strategic petroleum reserve of at least 90 days. It's possible, therefore, and that's why we must do it. And it'll make it impossible for Putin to continue waging his offensive war in Ukraine beyond a few weeks. And we should extend it to gas as well. I mean, talking about, as the EU is talking about, reducing gas imports by two thirds by the end of the year—again, it doesn't rise to the moral imperative that we face, and it is possible to have a complete embargo on gas as well. We've had weeks of mild weather, and major deliveries of US liquefied natural gas mean that European gas storage levels are now high, and, with the summer ahead of us, we have time to source alternative supplies by next winter.

The sudden and total economic isolation of Russia, the combination of the total ban on transactions by the central bank, the ejection of Russia from the SWIFT system and a total energy embargo together have the potential to bring the regime down. We may reach the point, if we do this, where Putin cannot afford even to pay his own troops.

Half measures won't work. In 1935, when Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, the world imposed targeted sanctions but stopped short of an energy embargo. That enraged Mussolini, but didn't stop him. It propelled him to form an alliance with Germany, bringing about the conditions for world war two, which was precisely what the democratic powers were keen to avoid. Years later, he told Hitler that an oil embargo would have brought him down.

'In the space of eight days we would have had to retreat in Ethiopia. It would have been an unmistakable catastrophe for me', said the transcript of the meeting. And, by the way, China can't save Russia. The Chinese refineries aren't adapted to deal with sulphurous Russian oil, and the Transneft pipeline goes in the other direction. The Chinese don't have the tankers for it. If we don't buy the Russian oil tomorrow, then it's unsellable. And, by the way as well, this is an opportunity for us to decarbonise our economy finally. People talk about a wartime mobilisation on climate change. Well, the war's arrived, and now is the time to insulate our houses, to build up renewables and install heat pumps by the millions. 

We must stop Putin by every means possible short of direct military involvement by western countries. The west can't go to war directly with Russia over Ukraine because of the risk of nuclear escalation. By the way, in relation to the amendment that my friend Heledd Fychan will refer to, nuclear weapons in the world that we live in now with Putin are an asymmetric deterrent. They don't deter Vladimir Putin from his wars of aggression, but they deter us from doing anything about it. They empower dictators and paralyse the rest, which is why we must seek to remove them at a global level. But what we can do—

Photo of Adam Price Adam Price Plaid Cymru

No, I haven't got time. What we can do is introduce massive and paralysing sanctions frontloaded to achieve instant effect in Russian society. The quicker we impose them, the faster we can hamper Putin's ability to kill people in Ukraine. We should clearly signal our intention to put Putin in the dock at the Hague as a message to his inner circle that now is the time to choose if they want to be there with him.

And finally, Llywydd, Auden in the poem says this: 

'We must love one another or die.'

Now is the time to show our love for our fellow human beings not in words, but in deeds. 

Photo of Alun Davies Alun Davies Labour 4:22, 9 March 2022

It's a real privilege to follow that contribution from Adam Price. I think the contributions that you have made, alongside Mick Antoniw, after your visit to Ukraine have really brought home to us the personal issues here at stake, and how every loss is an absolute personal tragedy. And I think we're all grateful to you and to Mick Antoniw for your leadership on that, and I think it's important that we do sometimes come together on these matters. Last Thursday morning, I watched a video that Andrew R.T. Davies had put on social media, and it struck a very different tone to much of what we heard at that time, and I think many of us also appreciated that leadership from the leader of the Welsh Conservatives as well. It is something that we must strive towards, because Adam is right in a lot of what he says, but you don't confront evil and you don't confront warfare and you don't confront this level of bullying with words alone; it is actions and deeds that the bully understands, and that is where we need to prioritise what we do this afternoon.

As somebody who has in the past worked in different areas and has seen the human impact of warfare, and has seen the human impact in terms of a refugee crisis here in Europe, I recognise that we must all do far, far, far more than we're doing today to help the people who are fleeing warfare. And it is right and proper that we open our borders and we open our country and we open our arms to those people who are fleeing this tragedy. It isn't good enough to say, 'Go to Paris or Brussels, get an appointment in a week's time or a month's time, show them you've got the right documents.' When you're running from war, you haven't got the documents. You prioritise your children. You prioritise the aged relatives. You prioritise your family. You don't prioritise ensuring that you've got a photocopy of your birth certificate. And we need to open those borders, and we need to make sure that those people know that they are welcome in this country. 

I listened this morning to a father who is waiting for a visa to be approved, and he said he was proud of his Ukrainian family and ashamed of the British Government. Nobody should feel like that. We have actions that matter, deeds matter, and we need to ensure that our homes and our communities are open to people.  

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru

If anybody hasn't yet seen the Channel 4 film from last night about the way the Urdd welcomed with open arms the children and families of Afghanistan to the gwersyll opposite this Senedd, I would recommend that you watch it. It made me hugely proud as a Welshman that we provided that welcome. Isn't it the case that our welcome for our Ukrainian friends has to be just as warm?

Photo of Alun Davies Alun Davies Labour

And an Afghan mother doesn't love her children less than a Ukrainian mother loves her children, and a Syrian mother doesn't love her father less then a Ukrainian mother loves her father. One thing that my Christianity tells me is that you cannot divide humanity and that we love each other, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that we open our homes for people who are fleeing warfare, and it was fantastic—and I think the First Minister mentioned it—to hear children from Afghanistan laughing, joking, playing football, feeling safe in this area, and we all know what they've been through.

But the final point I want to make, Presiding Officer, is this: you can't wait a month to sanction an oligarch; you have to do it immediately. We have the powers—or the United Kingdom Government has the powers—to confiscate property and assets today. Those powers have to be used. We have to ensure that we do all the things that Adam Price has outlined in terms of isolating Putin and his regime. But we also have to make sure that the riches that have been plundered from the people of Russia do not fund and fuel this war machine and do not escape the authorities and the ability of the United Kingdom Government and the United Kingdom authorities to impose these sanctions. It needs to be done today. It needs to be done now, and we need to use the powers that we have available to us to ensure that all the riches that have been plundered from Russia do not sustain a state in exile, and are not used to fund a war machine, and are not used to defend the acts of this murderous dictator.

And I hope that, together, we can not divide on party lines, but unite with that determination to turn these words into actions and to ensure that those actions count, and to ensure that, by our deeds, we will stand with Ukraine, stand with the Ukrainian people; we will admire and we will look at their bravery, and we will open our homes and we together—collectively—will return peace, security, democracy and love to this continent of ours. Thank you.

Photo of Peter Fox Peter Fox Conservative 4:28, 9 March 2022

'We don't want our children to be killed, but our children are being killed. Our hospitals are being bombed, everything is being destroyed. Planes are flying and dropping bombs everywhere; we don't know where the next rocket will land.'

These were the dire words of a distraught mother as Russia indiscriminately bombarded Ukraine with bomb after bomb after bomb. It's impossible not to be moved by her desperation, but it's not impossible for our actions to speak louder than our words. It is imperative that the west moves heaven and earth to impose the most severe punishments that will send Putin the stark message his decision to invade is a historic mistake. And thank God that the west is joined at the hip at countering Russian aggression by implementing crippling sanctions on the Russian economy, and I'm pleased to say that Britain is leading on this. But I acknowledge—as many have spoken here today—that we need to do more, and we need to act fast and we need to deliver immediately.

Now is not the time for political posturing, as Alun said, but firm action. After all, throughout Britain's bold history, we've taken pride in being a nation of sanctuary for those fleeing oppression, and we must continue to do so. In addition, as a father, and a grandfather of seven very young, beautiful children, and someone who had elderly parents, I can't help but imagine the unthinkable: that is, if my family were caught up in this conflict. It's so difficult to comprehend. What would we do?

Peace that once stood tall in Europe has been shattered by the Russian dark cloud, and this sombre fact is something none of us would ever have expected in our lifetime. But amidst the carnage and destruction, there is a glimmer of hope, and it's something the Russian regime badly underestimated, and that is the tenacity of the people of Ukraine. We've all seen powerful and emotional scenes of Ukrainians defending their country fiercely, as I mentioned last week in the debate. Their identity, their land, their culture and their history is so precious to them that thousands of them are ready to lay down their lives for their country, such is the strength of their identity and pride. We now owe it to those brave people to ensure our actions continue to speak louder than our words, and we do need to make those actions happen now; otherwise, the darkest periods of history will be repeated and much to our peril. I absolutely support this motion. Slava Ukraini.

Photo of Heledd Fychan Heledd Fychan Plaid Cymru 4:30, 9 March 2022

(Translated)

I wish to declare at the beginning of my contribution that I am a member of CND Cymru. So, it will come as no surprise that I am therefore speaking in favour of the amendment that calls on every state to sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Photo of Heledd Fychan Heledd Fychan Plaid Cymru 4:31, 9 March 2022

Russia's attack on Ukraine and Ukraine's right to self-determination represents a threat to all of us. These attacks violate a central principle of international law and Putin's claim that he is demilitarising or denazifying Ukraine needs to be called out for what it is: gaslighting on a global and horrific scale.

Without a doubt, this conflict increases the risk of nuclear war, something that is terrifying and horrific in equal measure. Indeed, Putin has put Russia's nuclear forces on high alert and has threatened the west, stating during a televised speech on 21 February that if NATO countries should interfere in Ukraine,

'Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.'

Whilst we can hope that this is nothing more than posturing from Putin, rather than an indication of a real intent to use such weapons, the threat is undoubtedly real, making the use of nuclear now more likely than at any point since the cold war. This is why, today, we are proposing as an amendment that we unify as a Senedd to prevent such a threat in the future by calling on all states, including the nuclear states, to sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

These are some of our darkest hours in Europe since world war two, and witnessing the horrifying scenes from Ukraine should undoubtedly spur us to do more to ensure peace across the world. Whilst we express solidarity with Ukraine and provide practical support for those who are going to be here in Wales, let's not lose sight of all conflicts and renew our support to the very first words of the UN charter, which states that the main motivation for creating the United Nations was to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Whilst we are rightly proud of our inspiration to be a nation of sanctuary here in Wales, we should also seek to become a nation of peace, as should every nation in the world.

Photo of Joyce Watson Joyce Watson Labour 4:33, 9 March 2022

I thank the Welsh Conservatives for tabling this debate, but I equally urge them to join some of the backbench Conservative Members in Westminster in demanding that Westminster speed up and relax the visa rules for people fleeing the Russian invasion—

Photo of Joyce Watson Joyce Watson Labour

I've only just started, hang on a minute. [Laughter.] For goodness' sake, just a minute.

The current policy—again, not my words—according to some of your colleagues in Westminster, dishonours the history, the reputation and the generous instincts of this country. Only those with family in the UK are being issued with visas and the scheme for businesses and individuals to sponsor refugees isn't even yet set up. In contrast, the EU has waived all visa restrictions for three years.

I'll take your intervention.

Photo of Andrew RT Davies Andrew RT Davies Conservative

I'm grateful for that, Joyce. We are supporting the Government amendment tonight. I want to be crystal clear: the Welsh Conservatives want to see greater flexibility in the system to make sure that we can welcome as many refugees as possible to this country. It's incumbent on us as citizens of the United Kingdom to do that, and we want to pressure our colleagues in Westminster, along with cross-party consensus, to achieve that.

Photo of Joyce Watson Joyce Watson Labour 4:35, 9 March 2022

I'm pleased to hear that, as people across Wales will be, because they're desperate to offer sanctuary. They're desperate to help people who are fleeing this atrocity. And who are the people we're talking about? They're women, they're children, they're elderly. And, as Alun has said, when you're fleeing for your life, you're not rummaging through a drawer to find a passport or a birth certificate, and I think we'd all be challenged to do that at the same time as thinking, 'We've got to get out of here, because we've got to save our children's lives.'

The Foreign Secretary yesterday announced that a pop-up visa centre will open in Lille to help Ukrainians process their application. Well, let me just tell you there have been 22,000 applications and 700 of those have been decided. So, let's just hope that that pop-up centre in Lille is not like the so-called surge team that arrived in Calais—all three of them, that is—armed with some crisps, water and KitKats to keep people warm and fed.

As lots of you will know, during the second world war, my father did escape from Poland to Scotland, and eventually back here to Wales, and he did that with the help of strangers. There are nearly 2 million people—again, I will repeat, women, children and elderly—who have fled the conflict in Ukraine. They've left behind everything—everything they had: their jobs, their houses, their belongings and, of course, their loved ones. They're relying on the kindness of strangers.

I watched the same interview that Alun watched this morning, and it doesn't make any of us here proud today to hear somebody say that they are ashamed of being British in this war. We don't want to be there. We don't want to join in that. But it does come to something when the people who are trying to come to Britain are being helped by the strangers in Calais, in Paris and in Brussels because we haven't got our act together, because we're not showing any compassion at all, but we're relying on those strangers in those countries to show the compassion that we have yet to demonstrate. So, we know the Welsh people are generous, with £100 million already in the Disasters Emergency Committee fund, but we have to stop being let down by the shambolic, lackadaisical, incompetent and, it seems, heartless UK Government. And I'm sorry to have to say that, but those, again, are not my words. It's trashing the reputation of this country. I hope they get their act together. I'm pleased you're going to support this, and I hope that you'll have some strong words with your leadership in Westminster to tell them how you feel. Thank you.

Photo of Tom Giffard Tom Giffard Conservative 4:38, 9 March 2022

Sometimes it's impossible to know what to say in a debate like this, to really express the horror that Ukrainians are living through, and sometimes words just don't cut it. And as my colleague Sam Kurtz rose to his feet, my phone flashed up and my jaw dropped in horror as I saw the following headline, which was:

'Putin sinks to new low: Maternity hospital is bombed, children buried under rubble' in Mariupol. It's important we don't become numb to headlines like that as they're happening more and more frequently. That's a daily reality for Ukrainians and we need to do all that we can to help them.

I've been encouraged by the response of people in Wales and the United Kingdom who have really risen to the occasion, as we always do when we're faced with a humanitarian emergency like the one we're witnessing in Ukraine. And yesterday, as Joyce Waston alluded to, the Disasters Emergency Committee said that over £6.5 million has been raised in Wales alone towards the Ukraine humanitarian appeal, which, obviously, includes that £4 million from the Welsh Government, which is very welcome. It was also great to see the UK Government saying they'd match the first £20 million donated too. Because that's what we do in Wales. We don't stand on the sidelines and look at issues like these and think they're someone else's problem. We act. 

In last week's St David's Day debate, I called Wales a national of empathy, and nothing makes that clearer than our nation's response to this crisis, of which I'm really, really proud. But there's another reason why we shouldn't be standing on the sidelines either and it's the reason that Russian troops are today on Ukrainian soil: because Ukraine wants the one thing that lots of us take for granted and that's freedom and democracy. Putin can't stand the idea of a free, democratic, prosperous and happy former Soviet nation right on his doorstep. He can't bear the thought that people might not want to live under his style of rule, and he just can't live with the idea that the nation could be part of a free democratic global community rather than be part of Russia's small but sinister web of nations. Because when people are free to choose between Putin's style of authoritarianism or true democracy, they just won't choose Putin.

I won't lie and say that Ukraine's journey to democracy has been an easy one, but it's important to remember that Ukraine held a free and fair election and President Zelenskyy was elected with over 70 per cent of the vote. But, unfortunately, we have a living breathing example right before us today of Putin's idea of a perfect Ukraine and it's called Belarus. Belarus isn't a democracy. Since its inception in 1994, it's had just one president, the deplorable Alexander Lukashenko. Since he came to power, not one election in Belarus has been accepted as free or fair by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the United Nations or the European Union, and several senior Belarusian officials are subject to international sanctions for electoral fraud. Their press isn't free either; Reporters Without Borders ranks Belarus dead-last of all European countries in its press freedom index. They significantly curtail press freedoms and state media is completely subordinate to the president. Journalists are routinely arrested for their work, and last year, two journalists, Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova, working for Belsat tv, were imprisoned for two years for covering anti-Lukashenko protests in Minsk—jailed for simply doing their job.

The judiciary isn't free; 99.7 per cent of criminal cases in Belarus result in conviction, with political opponents routinely put behind bars. And Belarus is the only nation in Europe that still uses capital punishment. Women have fewer rights; gay people face widespread discrimination; and antisemitism's practically encouraged by the state. In the interests of time, I could go on and on and on, but I won't. Perhaps the most telling thing in relation to today's debate is that whilst everyone and everything in Belarus is subservient to Alexander Lukashenko, Lukashenko is subservient to Putin. Russia and Belarus signed the union state agreement that effectively hands over complete control of all things economic and military to the Kremlin. What Putin wants from Belarus, he gets. For all intents and purposes, the country is completely under Russian control—a Russian satellite state akin to the ones in the Soviet Union. And Putin would like Ukraine to be next. We shouldn't lose our perspective here. Why are millions fleeing Ukraine and why are thousands dying on their streets? Because Putin wants Ukraine to be like Belarus. And Ukraine wants what we have: freedom and democracy. And that's why we need to do all that we can to help them.

Photo of Jane Dodds Jane Dodds Liberal Democrat 4:43, 9 March 2022

I associate myself with all of the remarks made so far, and I will be supporting the Plaid Cymru amendment as well.

In 1943, in the depths of the war, more than 120 Czech children arrived in Llanwrtyd Wells, where a new school had been set up. They were Jewish refugees, brought to the UK by Kindertransport, brought here by Sir Nicholas Winton who rescued many Jewish children. This small town took these children to its heart and those links still remain to this day. Today, more than 80 years since Jewish children were forced to flee their homes, there is another refugee crisis in Europe, as we've all spoken about. All over Europe, every state bar one has opened its borders to accept the many thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war without the need for visas, recognising them as refugees. Poland has taken 1.2 million refugees; Hungary 191,000; and Slovakia 141,000.

I'm pleased to see that there is cross-party support and I'm pleased to hear that the Welsh Conservatives will be making strong representations—I hope—to their colleagues in the UK Parliament that we must do more, swifter and faster. I urge you to do two more things. I urge you to say that there should be no need for visas. These are genuine refugees; they are women and children. How can we say that we need to do checks on women and children? They are desperate—absolutely desperate—to come here. So, I urge you, and I would like to hear in the response whether you would agree to that. Secondly, the UK Government must also abandon the Nationality and Borders Bill, which it seems so intent on pushing through. We have seen already, right now, in great sadness, the harm that that will cause to those seeking safety.

I do really recognise the moves made by the Welsh Conservatives and by others across this Siambr, and I really hope we can be that nation of sanctuary to people coming here, unhindered, quickly, right now. Thank you. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Photo of Natasha Asghar Natasha Asghar Conservative 4:45, 9 March 2022

Russian tanks moving westward, cities being shelled and under siege, long columns of refugees trying to escape the fighting. You would be forgiven if you thought I was referring to events in Germany at the end of world war two. Sadly, that is not the case. President Putin, by his reckless, unjustified and illegal invasion of Ukraine, has turned the clock back and brought war to Europe. There is however one big difference between 2022 and 1945. Back then, it was the Russians who were the victims of aggression, fighting the forces of a brutal regime; today the position is reversed.

Ukraine is a sovereign, democratic state suffering an unprovoked, premeditated attack. Let us not be fooled by Putin's claim promoted by left-wing apologist groups that this invasion has been provoked by NATO expansionism. NATO is a defensive alliance whose official policy states that the alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia. Only 6 per cent of Russia's land borders touch NATO member countries. Russia has land borders with 14 countries, only five of them belonging to NATO. The last two countries to join the alliance were Montenegro in 2017 and North Macedonia in 2020, hardly presenting a threat to Russian security. Indeed, it is Russia, under Putin, that has consistently proved itself an aggressor.

In 2008, Russia invaded the former Soviet republic of Georgia in support of the self-proclaimed breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In 2014, Ukraine itself was attacked with Russian troops occupying Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea. If Putin's intention was to weaken NATO, it has backfired spectacularly, with the alliance more united than ever and countries like Sweden and Finland considering applying for membership now.  Countries across the world have acted to make sure Putin feels the full cost of his actions, including implementing the most severe package of sanctions Russia has seen. The UK Government has set out a six-point plan for the global response, providing clear leadership to ensure Putin's active aggression fails on all counts. On sanctions, the United Kingdom has frozen £258 billion in Russian bank assets, more than any country. We are implementing sanctions that deal a severe blow to the Russian economy, hobbling their military-industrial complex, and personally damaging Putin's inner circle of oligarchs. And we are providing humanitarian support to Ukraine in its hour of need.

According to the United Nations, more than 2 million people have fled fighting in Ukraine. I understand and completely agree that checks need to be made to ensure that we are helping those in genuine need, an approach based on the strongest security advice. However, as a Conservative sitting in the Welsh Parliament, I do urge the Home Office, in front of you all here today, to speed up the process, so those who seek a safe haven in the UK can find refuge here. For the past few sessions, I've heard speeches from all parties and various Members on Ukraine and how all of the men, women and children are indeed in our thoughts and our prayers. Like you, my heart goes out to them too.

I want to share something with you all here today. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a constituent of mine. For the purpose of her confidentiality—she doesn't want to reveal her name—I'm going to call her Miss B. She wrote to me and said, 'Natasha, I'm asking for your help. My mum, my dad and their newborn baby are in Ukraine. Please help them get out. They don't know what to do, and I don't know what to do myself.' Naturally, my first response was, 'Please get them out of there as quick as you can and as fast as you can'. And then, obviously after that, she said, 'Natasha, I'm trying my sincerest best, but I don't know what else to do.' After contacting the foreign and Commonwealth office, I didn't sleep for a week, because I was genuinely concerned for their well-being. The family actually lives in my constituency. They're as Welsh as each and every single one of us sitting in this Senedd. Having a newborn baby and being there for genuine medical purposes, it was a sincere reason why they were there, and they just simply wanted to get home and be as a family together.

Their daughter, who I consider my new-found hero, who really has worked tirelessly to get them home, has finally told me that the family are back safe and sound. I spoke to Mr B today, the father, who told me that whilst they were indeed caught up in the invasion, they left Kyiv to Lviv in the west of the country in a taxi, which took them over two days to get to. Due to the complete road blockages everywhere, they then took another taxi to the Polish border, but were dropped some 20 km away from where they had to go. A husband, a wife and their newborn baby had to walk that entire distance by themselves. They had no pram, they had their luggage in tow, but they walked that way, and thanks to the help of the foreign and Commonwealth office, which worked tirelessly to get them to safety, they finally managed to reach Poland. Like I said, I'm delighted to know that they are back home and with their families. They are in full praise for British high commission, the embassy staff, the foreign and Commonwealth office, who did their utmost to help them get their documents and gave them the support that they needed to escape, because, in their words, 'the online system in Ukraine has been completely compromised by a cyber attack from Russia'.

Presiding Officer, it is not the strength in the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit. The spirit of the people of Ukraine and of those who may not have been born in Ukraine but consider it home, and also that of my constituents and many others like them who have got home to safety, under the inspirational leadership of President Zelenskyy, remains unbroken, and I'm sure that their strength will continue. I firmly believe that the people of Ukraine will save themselves by their courage and determination and save the world by their example. Thank you.

Photo of Mabon ap Gwynfor Mabon ap Gwynfor Plaid Cymru 4:51, 9 March 2022

(Translated)

Well, friends, what is to be? This is a question that many people are asking themselves today. The future is a foreign country, and at this moment it is a terrifying one. But in thinking of this future, it's worth looking back to our history, and history clearly shows us that that war is a waste, a waste of life more than anything else.

My aunt Sheila, a Jew, fled Belarus after seeing real terror. She lost most of her family there, but Sheila was fortunate to be given shelter in London before coming to Wales and enriching us all. That is a lesson on fraternity and sorority, the love of the people of London and the people of Wales to strangers. Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and the Westminster Cabinet, learn that lesson. Give shelter to refugees. It is a disgrace that they are not moving more quickly.

But this war is showing us new horrors, worse than the 1962 Cuban missile crisis even. The mushroom cloud of death hangs over our heads, but it doesn't have to be this way. A nuclear war would destroy everything. Do we want to allow that to happen? We must take this opportunity to state clearly that there is no place for nuclear weapons in this world.

A year ago, we saw humanity at its best as people collaborated across the globe in order to find a vaccine to fight COVID-19. Today, we are seeing humanity at its worst, as Putin conscripts thousands of poor, naïve young men to kill Ukrainian brothers and sisters. But it's not the gun, and certainly not a nuclear weapon that will bring peace to our world, it is the will of people that will bring peace. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters across the world, facing oppression and violence, and working for peace, but we will stand shoulder to shoulder particularly with the brave people of Ukraine, and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the brave people of Russia who are standing up to Putin's oppression under huge threats to their freedoms and their lives, working for peace.

Photo of Jayne Bryant Jayne Bryant Labour 4:53, 9 March 2022

The horrors that we are all witnessing in Ukraine hark back to a time we thought, hoped would be firmly in the past. Firstly, I want to think about those children and young people in particular who are caught up in these atrocities. A report from a Kyiv suburb on Monday saw residents running with their young children in buggies or cradling babies in arms. Sadly, that's replicated across the country, and we've just heard in the last hour the horrifying news from President Zelenskyy that there has been a direct strike on a maternity and children's hospital. The Mariupol council describes the damage as colossal and says that many are buried under the rubble. Yesterday, President Zelenskyy said:

'We will not allow anyone in the world to ignore the suffering and murder of our people, our children....Fifty Ukrainian children killed in 13 days of war. And in an hour it was 52. Fifty-two children. I will never forgive that.'

Babies are being born, many prematurely, in terrifying conditions. In one hospital, dozens of children are in treatment after premature birth, for cancer and for other serious illnesses, and they're crammed into basement bunkers with doctors and nurses doing their best to keep treatments going. 

On Tuesday, the United Nations revised its estimate of the number of people fleeing Ukraine, putting the figure at 2 million, the fastest exodus Europe has seen since the second world war. The majority of the 2 million people are women and children; the Disasters Emergency Committee has said that Putin's invasion of Ukraine is tearing families apart and leaving displaced women and girls at an increased risk of abuse and sexual and physical violence. When these children and young people are moved across borders, the risks are sadly multiplied. I know that the Minister will be aware of the dangers of this, and will work with others to ensure that we play our part to help protect these vulnerable children and young people.

We've seen tremendous scenes of solidarity and support across Europe: crowds lining train stations to take people into their homes, prams left at Polish stations for parents to use when they arrive with their children, and people driving hours to the border just to do what they can to help. It's a sad indictment of this UK Government's reaction to this crisis that the images currently connected with the UK are of those families stuck in Calais having traversed Europe. The UK has reacted well in terms of equipment and logistical support, but when it comes to showing humanity and empathy with welcoming refugees, far from leading the way, we're shamefully being left behind.

We must ensure that our systems in Wales are ready for when those families do arrive. We've already shown a wonderful collaboration with the Urdd, as Rhun mentioned earlier, when helping Afghan children and families, an excellent project that gives a welcome to Wales with compassion, camaraderie and sanctuary. I know that talks are already in place to replicate this with Ukrainian families, and it would be really good to see this scheme enhanced across Wales for all those fleeing war. I know that there are many people here in Wales keen to welcome refugees and do all they can to support.

Importantly, we must be sensitive to the impact of what's happening in Ukraine on our children and young people here in Wales. This generation have grown up more connected with their counterparts across the world than ever before. I know that there are resources around for parents, carers and teachers to talk to children and young people about this in a sensitive way. BBC Newsround has been a really good resource, for example. I'd be keen to hear if there's more that the Welsh Government can do to provide that support and resources about what's happening to all our children and young people in Wales.

We're proud of our compassion in Wales. The speed with which individuals, community groups and charities and the Welsh Government have rallied to get help is heartwarming. Children and young people across Wales are already doing a huge amount to support those fleeing war and those who are still in Ukraine, such as fundraising with their school or group. This is the compassionate Wales that we are, and those children and young people are leading the way. That's what gives us hope.

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour

Diolch, Llywydd. I do welcome this important debate today with powerful and unifying contributions across the Chamber. Two weeks ago, we saw Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and, as the days go by, in the face of the most courageous Ukrainian resistance, his tactics become more brutal, more callous and indiscriminate towards its people. Tom Giffard and Jayne Bryant have drawn attention to this horrendous news that we've just had of the air strike on a maternity and children's ward in Mariupol.

More than 2 million people have now fled Putin's bombs, many with their entire lives packed into just a bag. It's the greatest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the second world war. I want to reiterate at this point that we stand united and in support of Ukrainian people in the face of Putin's aggression, and we stand ready to welcome those Ukrainians who, above everything, are seeking sanctuary. We've seen an outpouring of support from across Wales, from our local authorities, the third sector, faith leaders and the public, who are once again rising to the challenge, who are demonstrating their compassion and resilience, which is so synonymous with who we are as a nation, as a nation of sanctuary, demonstrated time and again, and most recently with the Afghan evacuation.

Photo of Mark Isherwood Mark Isherwood Conservative 4:59, 9 March 2022

I welcome your comments. I've just had an e-mail, actually, from a constituent: 'Is the Welsh Government going to set up a family sponsorship scheme for Ukrainian refugees? I know many people would support and sponsor a Ukrainian refugee family.' I wonder if you're able to answer my constituent.

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour 5:00, 9 March 2022

Thank you very much, Mark, and I'll come on to that point in my speech this afternoon. I think it was very helpful, Rhun ap Iorwerth, that you drew attention to that film showing what has happened as a result of our team Wales approach to the Afghan evacuation, with the role of the Urdd in the summer. We heard about that. We heard from an Afghan refugee and Siân Lewis from the Urdd at the vigil on Sunday night. It was very powerful.

We have to also express our gratitude to all those, all the efforts, all the offers of support that are coming in communities from our constituents as well as from our authorities. Yesterday we watched the historic address by President Zelenskyy to the House of Commons, an address where he spoke of the war they didn't want, that they did not ask for, of the rockets raining down, of no food, of no water, and of the children that could have lived. He spoke also about the Ukrainians that have become heroes, of people stopping armed vehicles with their own hands, and this is not a reality any of them wished to see, and I know each of us are resolved to do more in recognition and response.

So, yes, last week, we did announce that we provided £4 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine. We donated it to the Disasters Emergency Committee because they represent 15 major aid charities, and many of us were there on the steps when we launched that with disasters committee Cymru last week. Allocating the funding in this way will ensure it reaches those who need it as quickly and as efficiently as possible. And, Llywydd, we know that the best and fastest way of supporting Ukrainian people is through a donation to DEC rather than physical goods, although people want to give, but it is so important. And we recognise that the citizens of Wales have been so generous since the £4 million, increasing that £6.5 million and more.

As a Government and also with our remarkable NHS, we continue every effort to pull together specialist medical goods that can be supplied to Ukraine, and I will provide an update shortly on how this is being taken forward.

I want to turn now to the issue of visas. We remain in continual contact with the UK Government to try and understand how any schemes will operate and to reiterate our readiness for Wales to play its full part. And I join all of those who have stated today that the current system is simply unacceptable. But what a strong message we can give if this is a united message from Wales that it isn't acceptable—the system at present—and that we are urging for action. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this morning that just 760 visas of 22,000 applications in process have been issued, but we have desperate families forced to travel hundreds of miles to visa centres that are still closed or plagued by week-long waits and endless queues. The First Minister and the Welsh Local Government Association wrote separately to the Prime Minister last week to call for the introduction of simple, safe and fast sanctuary routs to the UK. But this is still not happening, and we must urgently set up emergency visa centres at all major travel points, have security checks on the spot and emergency visas issued, and repeat our call for the requirement of biometric evidence prior to leaving Ukraine to be removed. And isn't it good that we're all saying that today? It's such a strong message. We need this action to be taken urgently so that the people who need us the most can be brought to safety and be reunited with their family and loved ones, and we know those who are waiting for it.

So, I think this debate today is a call to the UK Government, to ask them, to show that they can and will move from promises of action to actual action, and we will play our part. It is, actually, about our sincerity in our unity behind Ukraine. If we truly want to play our part to provide safety where there is suffering, to be that safe haven that we know our country and the rest of the United Kingdom can be, we must, all of us, demand better, as Joyce Watson said. So, we are calling on the UK Government to put in place a fully funded refugee resettlement scheme.

Photo of Jane Dodds Jane Dodds Liberal Democrat

I'm so sorry to interrupt, Minister, and thank you for those comments. I was just wondering whether Welsh Labour are in a place where they can say what their views are on visas, whether they are required for refugees coming into the UK or not. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour 5:05, 9 March 2022

Well, this is what we're calling, very clearly—that we need this refugee resettlement scheme. We really feel that, in terms of our previous experience with Afghan and Syrian programmes, we need a fully funded refugee resettlement scheme. I know that the ambassador of Ukraine has asked that visas shouldn't be needed at all, Jane Dodds, and this is why, in the EU, people are able to come over the border and have that kind of welcome. These are important issues that have got to be addressed, and there needs to be a response from the UK Government.

We do need also, just to say, in terms of resettlement arrangements, a consequential funding package to ensure we can properly provide for those we seek to protect. And I think this was the point from Mark Isherwood—it's about how a sponsorship proposal can work. It shouldn't be linked to individual sponsorship, but rather whether devolved Government, ourselves, Welsh Government, local government or national agencies can act in that sponsorship role to minimise bureaucracy for arriving individuals, and we have got a good model with local government in receiving refugees who've previously come through those sponsorship schemes.

So, I think just in conclusion, Llywydd, anyone who settles in Wales will be supported as far as we're able as a nation of sanctuary, and our wider response to this crisis will be to support and thank the Welsh public for their compassionate response. We actually have, as you know, the public offering donations, landlords offering properties, individuals offering their time to volunteer. We're also considering how we can make sure that that common humanity that motivates people so much can be applied to wider cohorts in our communities.

I want to be clear that the responsibility for this unprovoked war in Ukraine lies squarely with Putin, and not with the people of Russia. In Wales there are valued community members of Ukrainian, Russian and Belarussian origin. We must ensure our words and actions protect their safety, and I feel the words of Mick Antoniw MS, who was with us today, we know—. He paid tribute in this Senedd to the brave Russian students and young people who've been protesting across the Russian Federation. We now see that thousands of Russians of all ages, despite knowing very well the risk they face, have been taking to the streets, have been beaten and arrested for speaking out against Putin's aggression. They are the real future of Russia.

So, thank you again for this debate. We stand with Ukraine and we will do everything we can to play our part.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:08, 9 March 2022

(Translated)

Andrew R.T. Davies to reply to the debate.

Photo of Andrew RT Davies Andrew RT Davies Conservative

Thank you, Presiding Officer. I am very proud, to say the least, that it is the Welsh Conservatives that have tabled the motion today, and in particular of the 12 contributors who have put their names forward to speak, and spoken so powerfully and eloquently in today's debate. I've heard on several occasions over two days that words and actions aren't necessarily compatible; well, certainly in a debating chamber like this, the words that have been spoken today have real power and have real meaning, and above all they have the passion and conviction that people generally deplore what is going on in Ukraine.

It is quite right, as Alun Davies pointed out in his contribution, and the Minister closed in her contribution, that this isn't the Russian people's war. This is Putin's war, and he is leading them down a path of total destruction in the way he is executing that war, and the comments that we've heard from Tom Giffard and others in particular who've highlighted—Jayne Bryant as well touched on it—a maternity unit, with children and mothers in it, was destroyed this afternoon, 9 March 2022. Who would have thought that someone would have stood up in this Chamber and talked of a country in Europe where a maternity unit was destroyed in an act of war? That is something I never thought I'd ever have to say in this Chamber, and we will see a continuation of these atrocities unless we face down Putin and we stand on a united platform to make sure we support the Ukrainian people.

I will say to Joyce Watson and others who have highlighted the comments of the individual in Poland, I can understand that individual's frustration and his comments this morning. But I will say that, through the month of January, it was the UK Government that were flying the anti-tank weapons and the anti-aircraft weapons into Ukraine. It was the UK Government that was sending military advisers to train 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers. It is the UK Government that has put £400 million on the table, the biggest donation of humanitarian aid of any country in the world—in the world—not just Europe, not from Asia, not from North America, but the world, and I am damn proud to say that we've done that. I am damn proud to say that, but what I'm not proud to say is the scenes that we've seen with the refugees and the situation in Calais. We can do more, we must do more. 

Photo of Andrew RT Davies Andrew RT Davies Conservative 5:10, 9 March 2022

And Jayne Bryant asked the question about visas. I do believe that there does need to be checks when people are applying to come here, but there is a model we can use; it's the model that was used when the Hong Kong situation was spiralling out of control, and it is supported by the Labour Party in London as well. Anyone who saw Yvette Cooper's comments, the shadow Home Secretary, on Sky News this morning, saying that they also support the checks and balances that need to be put in place—. But we can do more. We can do more and we must do more. Two and a half million people have left Ukraine as we sit here today. The projections are up to 7 million people leaving that country, but I bet you a pound to a penny that virtually every single one of them want to get back to their homeland and rebuild that homeland when it does eventually assume its rightful place as a democratic nation, led by Ukrainians, who ultimately, as Tom Giffard touched on, has a president who was voted for by 70 per cent of the population. We don't want to create another Belarus because, ultimately, that's what Putin wants to happen. He wants it to be a satellite state that will do his bidding for him, and the Ukrainians are fighting tirelessly to make sure that they do face him down. 

There is a fundamental difference between us when it comes to nuclear weapons. Some of us believe that they are the ultimate deterrent that stop the tanks rolling beyond Ukraine and into Europe and spreading the war. I accept we will not solve that problem this afternoon, but I do urge—. And I regret that this hasn't happened and we haven't got a joint signed motion—normal channels seem to have fallen down on this one, because I do think it's important that the Senedd speaks with one voice today. And I would just ask my colleagues in Plaid Cymru to consider the amendment that they have tabled so that we can have a unanimous vote here this evening, endorsing the motion that is before us, as Sam Kurtz highlighted in his opening remarks—some of the strongest language that I've ever seen here—about deploring the invasion into Ukraine, making sure that we show our support for the refugees and the citizens of Ukraine. And I would ask Plaid Cymru to consider withdrawing that amendment that is a dividing line between those who believe that nuclear weapons are a deterrent and an effectual deterrent, and those who want to see a nuclear-free world. I don't discourage people from arguing that point—it's a perfectly reasonable point to make—but it will divide this house this evening when we vote, and I would hope that we can avoid that division

Adam Price, the leader of Plaid Cymru, touched very powerfully on the point about sanctions and the tools that are in the toolbox. We do need to deploy those tools fully and make sure that every dollar, every dime, every pound, every penny is stopped from going to the Russian treasury to buy those guns, buy those tanks and pay those wages of mercenaries who are going into Ukraine. The UK—. As contributions from the backbenches here on the Conservative benches and across this Chamber have highlighted, £258 billion— £0.25 trillion—has been sanctioned already in London. If you take Europe, another £0.25 trillion has been sanctioned on the European continent. If you make sure you add these sums together, we are talking—. The financial blockade is talking hold and we must continue the pressure. We agree with that and we want it to continue, and it is by working together that we will put that noose to make sure that the economy cannot function to pay the war machine that is causing such devastation in Ukraine. There is no division on that whatsoever. 

But I do want to reiterate the points that Peter made in his contribution. He brought the comments of a lady who had gone from Ukraine and the horrors that she had seen. He brought those words into this Chamber for us all to hear. Every day we are hearing those words. As Natasha Asghar touched on, her constituent and the family that is so personal to her now, and the experience that they went through—we can achieve it when we clear those communications and get people out of Ukraine and make sure that they come to the safety of the west. Whether that be in the countries that surround the country of Ukraine or further into the continent of Europe, or to our own islands here in the United Kingdom, we can and we will do more. But let's not forget, when we stand together, united in this cause, we can face down everyone, and we will succeed in doing that and achieving the goal we all want to see, which is Ukraine a proud, sovereign, independent nation, rebuilt and standing on its own two feet. But we won't do that if we divide in the west and we divide across the globe, and it is vitally important that we stay united, and I do make that plea to Plaid Cymru to consider their amendment tonight, to withdraw it, so that we can vote and vote united and send that powerful message, as this is the first time that this Parliament will have voted on this particular matter. And that's why I urge support of the motion that's before us this evening, and I hope it will be a united message that comes out of this Parliament this evening. Thank you.

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 5:15, 9 March 2022

(Translated)

The proposal is to agree the motion without amendment. Does anyone object? [Objection.] Yes, there is objection. Therefore, voting on this item will be deferred until voting time.

(Translated)

Voting deferred until voting time.